While somewhat under the national radar, Conference USA once again produced a bevy of quality players, who will be taking their talents to the NFL and playing on Sunday’s.
Many of these players became household names to C-USA fans in their three, four or five years as part of the league. Here’s my look at the 10 players who will be the toughest to replace in the conference.
Feel free to let me know who else should be on this list.
FIU: P- Stone Wilson
UAB: WR- Xavier Ubosi
UNT: LB-E.J. Ejiya
Charlotte: DB- Ed Rolle
WKU: LB- Masai Whyte
10. Jack Fox, P/K, Rice
I’m sure some will take issue with a specialist being on this list. I, on the other hand, have no issue putting Fox among the top-10. The Ray Guy Award semifinalist has arguably been the league’s top punter for the past three seasons. Fox averaged 45.5 yards per punt, which was good for eight in FBS football and did so with 80 punts. He also went 23 for 23 on PAT’s and hit five field goals as well. It’s still an uphill climb for Mike Bloomgren to put the Owls back into bowl contention and replacing a valuable weapon in Fox will be a challenge.
9. Jamell Garcia-Williams, DE, UAB
The Las Vegas native made the most of his one season as a starter in Birmingham. After playing sparingly in 2017, he burst onto the C-USA scene in ‘18. The 6’8, 265-pound defensive end recorded 43 tackles, including 15.5 for loss and 9.5 sacks. While the Blazers will lose multiple defensive stalwarts, such as Chris Woolbright and Broderick Thomas, Garcia-Williams’ ability to provide pressure and be a run-stopper will be hard to replace for Bill Clark and the defending conference champs.
8. Oshane Ximines, DE, ODU
Simply put, Ximines has been the premier defensive end in Conference USA for the past two seasons. Back to back years as a first-team all-conference performer, Ximines was one of the lone bright spots on defense for Old Dominion in 2018. He recorded 33 sacks and 51 tackles for loss in four seasons as a Monarch. Expect the North Carolina native to be one of the most sought after pass-rushers in the 2019 NFL draft.
7. Jordan Budwig, LG, FIU
Budwig’s presence will be missed not just on the offensive line, but in the locker and meeting room, as the guard spent over a half-decade with the program. He was named to the all-conference second-team in his sixth and final season and has consistently been one of the team’s most talented lineman since joining FIU. It’ll be up to talented players like Mershawn Miller, Shacquille Williams and Shane McGough to replace Budwig’s 50 starts worth of experience.
6. Juwan Foggie, LB, Charlotte
After spending two seasons as a reserve receiver, Foggie flourished as a linebacker for the 49ers. He started 21 games as an outside linebacker, recording 141 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss in his final two seasons in Charlotte. His senior campaign was especially impressive, as he led C-USA in interceptions with six, including returning two of those for touchdowns. New 49er head coach Will Healy has the task of replacing Foggie, along with defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, who took the same position at Florida Atlantic.
5. Tyre Brady, WR, Marshall
Brady arrived in Huntington in 2016, after playing his first two collegiate seasons at Miami. He quickly established himself as one of C-USA’s premier pass-catching targets. The 6-3, 205-pound wideout snagged 142 passes for 2,056 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Thundering Herd. While head coach Doc Holiday and quarterback Isaiah Green have Obi Obialo coming back, there’s no denying that replacing Brady will be a group effort among the receiving corps.
4. Josiah Tauaefa, LB, UTSA
Tauafea’s name may be too high on this list for some. However, the Roadrunners’ star linebacker was the lone bright spot, in what has been an otherwise forgettable past two seasons for UTSA football. He set a program record for tackles in a season (115) as a redshirt freshman in 2016, and after having an injury plagued ‘17, rebounded with 111 tackles and 4.5 sacks. UTSA struggled to a 3-9 record last season and while there were offensive woes, their biggest challenge may be replacing Tauafea.
3. Jaylon Ferguson, DL, La Tech
All Ferguson did during his time in Conference USA, was rewrite the FBS mark for sacks in a career. The defensive end was successful in making his way to the quarterback 45 times in four seasons in Ruston. C-USA’s Defensive Player of the Year for 2018 had 65 tackles, including 26 for loss and 17.5 sacks in final season as a Bulldog. He had 2.5 sacks in his final game to break Terrell Suggs’ mark that stood for 15 years.
2. Brent Stockstill, QB, MTSU
The father-son duo of Rick and Brent Stockstill accounted for 30 wins during the younger Stockstill’s time as a starter in Murfreesboro. That’s the most successful four-year stretch in program history, since the Blue Raiders joined FBS in 1999. The 6-0, 215-pound quarterback threw for 12,483 yards and 106 touchdowns in his C-USA career and helped Middle Tennesee State to four straight bowl appearances.
1. Devin Singletary, RB, FAU
The obvious choice for the number one spot on this list has to go to Singletary. Conference USA’s record holder for rushing touchdowns in a single-season (32), stormed his way through opposing defenses for over 4,200 rushing yards and 66 touchdowns during his three-year stint in Boca Raton. As if the loss of Singletary wasn’t enough for Lane Kiffin’s Owls, backup running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. also declared for the NFL draft. This makes the loss of the greatest player in FAU history that much more singnificant.